Tomorrow

I am an anxious person. A worry wart. A pessimist. I worry so constantly, I’m actually surprised I don’t suffer from ulcers or some other chronic condition. The other day, when I went in to get my driver’s license, I was so nervous, I had butterflies in my stomach and sweaty palms. I couldn’t even read the book I brought with me! I was worried I wouldn’t understand something that they said to me in Spanish; I was worried I wouldn’t pass the eye exam (it has been 11 years since I had new glasses!); I was worried I wouldn’t pass the theory exam. As it turns out, I needn’t have worried about any of those things. I communicated well; they didn’t even make me take an eye exam, just noted that I was wearing glasses; and I got a perfect score (20/20) on the computerized theory exam.

As we were walking out, my husband said he didn’t know why I get so worked up about things like this. He wasn’t being mean, but I know he thinks I’m silly. It’s hard to explain this aspect of my personality to someone who generally flies through life by the seat of his pants.

And the thing is, there is always something to worry about. It’s part of being human and having a life, I think. Tonight, I find myself worrying about tomorrow. Tomorrow, I am taking Alex in for a psychological evaluation. We are having him tested for ADD/ADHD at his school’s request, and they are also going to do some type of intelligence test as well on him. I know I shouldn’t borrow trouble before we know the outcome and the official diagnosis, but the questions keep whirling around in my mind. What if he does have ADD/ADHD? Does this mean expensive medication with tons of side effects? Does it mean other lifestyle alterations, such as a strict diet? Does it mean a permanent label among teachers and authority figures as a “difficult” or “problem” child?

And beyond the practical questions, lurk the more sinister, guilt-inducing worries — that my son is the way he is because of my own failings as a parent. Have I been too lenient? Have I been too strict? Do I expect too much? Should I expect more? Has the transience that has marked our life since he was an infant done irreparable damage? Have we made him the way he is because we have denied him stability and permanence?

Like most parents, I’m trying to do my best with the precious souls God has entrusted to my care for the time being. But what do you do when your best doesn’t seem to be good enough?

It’s at times like this that the following verse is such a comfort to me:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7, MSG)

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Scattered

Sometimes, when I write, it flows easily.

Other times, not so much.

I have been staring at my screen for over 10 minutes without writing a single word. It’s not “writer’s block” in the sense that my mind is a blank. On the contrary, I have so many different thoughts swirling around in my head that I don’t know where to begin, or which one to focus on tonight, for this blog post.

I suppose it’s more a problem of organization. When I can’t organize my thoughts well, I can’t write well. When I can’t focus on one thing at a time, I can’t get organized. I feel scattered right now. I need to collect myself and my thoughts, but I’m not sure where to begin.

What do you do when you’re feeling scattered? Are you a list-maker? An exerciser? A cleaner? A music listener? A nap-taker? A crafter? A pray-er? What helps you order your muddled thoughts and reclaim inner tranquility?

A Second Car

It’s official. Today, we became a two-car family again when we brought home our Nissan Patrol. It has been almost 7 years since we owned two vehicles at the same time (not counting the first few months we spent in Ecuador when we were still trying to sell our mini-van in the United States). In fact, we have been a two-car family for only a handful of our nearly 14 years of marriage. And if you read my “Wheel-Less” posts, then you know about our experiences with not owning a vehicle at all.

I confess: I sort of resisted the purchase of a second car for a long time. Not because I was afraid of driving in Ecuador (well, maybe that played a teensy part), but more because owning a second vehicle just seemed so — extravagant. I mean, we’re missionaries. We already have one car, which is more than about 95% of the rest of the people on planet Earth. Do we really need a second one? For that matter, do we really need the first one? Is it right for us to have so much when others have so little? Two cars means we will spend twice as much on transportation — two cars to maintain, two cars to fill up with gas, two cars to insure, two cars to pay the yearly tax on…

But several things have become apparent over the last several months which have slowly shifted my thinking in regards to this. The first is that Rusty is probably going to be away from home a lot more than either of us thought he would be when we first came to Ecuador. The second is that, although cabs are a viable option, they are not an option I am entirely comfortable with, for various reasons (see Wheel-Less: Part 2). And the third is, that while my husband never complains at being asked to chauffeur me around, I know that he would like for me to be a little more independent (to be able to drive myself to the store, for example). So while I’m not completely thrilled at the idea of being a two-car family again, I recognize that this is a blessing for our situation. And my attitude should be one of gratefulness for the blessing of having found this car, for the blessing of being able to afford it, rather than accepting it begrudgingly.

Oh, I am excited at the prospects of independence and the ability to go places on my own that this car represents. Now, to conquer my fear of driving in Ecuador, and to get my Ecuadorian driver’s license!

My new ride

My new ride

So Many Questions (written Jan. 17)

We went upriver in the canoe today, as far as we could go before heavy rapids prevented us from going farther. Some words that came to mind as I sat there watching the dense jungle flash by on either side — peaceful, untouched, remote. Kent says there are villages beyond the rapids, but you would have to hike into them. It is hard to imagine living in such a remote place. Kumanii and the nearby villages seem remote to me. No roads, no cars, no way in or out except by the river. But to live where not even boats can go? That gives whole new meaning to the word.

On the way back downriver, we stopped at a Chachi village to buy some baskets. Even after years growing up around poverty-stricken people, it slaps me in the face — the kids with their bellies swollen from parasites, dirty, ragged clothes, bare, muddy feet. So much need. And then the questions start gnawing at me — Why do I have so much while they have so little? Why do I have access to basic things like medicine, healthy food, clean water, while they don’t? Why are my children so privileged just by virtue of the fact that they were born Americans? What can I do for these people, these precious children, these struggling mamas? What can any one person do in the face of such obvious, desperate need? Where does one even begin to bring hope and comfort and a better life?

P.S. I don’t have any answers, by the way. The questions, they’re still gnawing.